Michael Elgin hinted in an interview with Pro Wrestling Ponderings conducted right before he won the ROH World Title at Best in the World 2014 that he wanted to take on any and all former World Champions should he win the title from Adam Cole. Lo and behold, Elgin did win the title and indeed challenged all former ROH and any former or current World Champions to wrestle him at ROH events.
Roderick Strong stepped right up, releasing a promo accepting Elgin’s challenge and they will wrestle on June 18th in Cincinnati, ROH is hyping this as Elgin’s very first defense, but it is possible that Elgin will also defend the belt against an opponent to be named on the June 12th ROH house show in Hopkins, Minnesota. Elgin has been booked already for a six-man war teaming up with the tag team of War Machine (Hansen and Ray Rowe) against Cole, Matt Hardy and Michael Bennett. However, Elgin released a promo announcing that he wanted to defend the title on that show as well and would wrestle twice that night. This may result in an impromptu title defense, which was a tactic that was used to hype up Samoa Joe’s early part of his ROH World Title run in 2003.
It is likely that when all is said and done with Elgin’s ROH World Title run that he will have wound up defending the title against Strong and several other former ROH World Champions, and several other champions from other promotions. A writer might therefore want to devise smartly a Top Five-style column (to be used as filler while said writer will be away on vacation) devoted to the best possible or most likely or most wanted former champions Elgin should wrestle.
This is not that column.
No, instead, this column looks at the opposite situation, because for as many former champions who are worthy of receiving a shot at the ROH World Title, there are plenty of wrestlers currently on the ROH roster (or who are regular guest-stars for the company) who have never been world champion and yet could provide some excellent matches for Elgin during this title reign.
So indeed, here is a Top Five list of wrestlers who Michael Elgin should defend the title against and have not yet been ROH Champion:
5. Jay Lethal: Lethal is currently the ROH World Television Champion, which under old school wrestling precedent gives him an argument that he is the unofficial number one contender to the World Title and gives leverage for a shot at the title. It also helps that Lethal and Elgin have recent history together: they teamed up several times in 2013, most notably fighting against the forces of SCUM. they also had a barn burner match last year at Supercard of Honor VII, so it would be safe to assume they could repeat the process again, just this time with higher stakes. Of course, Lethal is managed at the moment by Truth Martini, who famously used to be Michael Elgin’s pitch-man and motivational life-coach. Surely there are no hard feelings left there…but in case that there are it would surely be a nice sub-plot to a title match between Elgin and Lethal.
4. ACH: Hey, the kid is extremely popular with the fans, wrestles a fast-paced and athletic match and that provides the big man-little guy style pairing that has worked so well in professional wrestling. Elgin defeated ACH at Dragon’s Reign in May 2013, but that was a whole year ago and ACH is a whole year better now. Who knows what could happen the next time around?
3. Chris Hero: Hero hasn’t been in Ring of Honor much since his match against AJ Styles at Flyin’ High in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, but a title match would be great motivation for a return booking. Hero was eyeing the World Title earlier in 2014 and had several opportunities for it against Cole, never losing cleanly per se and barely being beat out during the Ringmaster’s Challenge match in Chicago. Elgin and Hero also have some backstory-as Hero and Elgin matched up at Homecoming 2012, which was during Hero’s brief return to the independents awaiting clearance to go to WWE developmental. Hero’s style is hard-hitting and action-based, which meshes well with Elgin’s hard-nose and physical style, so no doubt this combination would prove well, especially in the ROH main-event scene.
2. “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels: For all of the years that Daniels has with Ring of Honor, the World Championship still eludes him. Right now Daniels is in pursuit of tag team gold with Frankie Kazarian (who barely missed the cut on the list-he would need some good singles wins to earn contention since he’s only appeared twice before for ROH). However, Daniels’ standing and history with ROH would provide a decent argument to a side-trip into singles competition. Daniels has a win over Elgin in ROH as well, back at Honor Takes Center Stage: Chapter 2 in 2011. Daniels also was a part of The House of Truth at the same time as Elgin, so yet another man on this list with past tie to the current champion that strengthens a story that can be told about the title opportunity. In the ring, Daniels can still bring it as well as he ever did, and it wouldn’t be too difficult to believe that he could get the fans biting on some near falls with the BME (Best Moonsault Ever) and Angels’ Wings.
1. Kyle O’Reilly: The current and three-time ROH World Tag Team Champion has been turning heads with his tag efforts teaming with partner Bobby Fish and also in his singles work as well. He won the PWG Championship this year at the Sold Our Soul for Rock & Roll event, unseating Adam Cole as champion, so he and Elgin have that in common. They actually have more than that in common though-as once again Elgin has back history with someone on this list specifically related to ROH. Elgin wrestled O’Reilly in an ROH tournament not once, but twice. Kyle O’Reilly defeated Elgin in the Semi-Finals of the 2011 Top Prospect Tournament and then Elgin and O’Reilly were the last two men in the 2012 Survival of the Fittest, which won after pinning O’Reilly. These two match-up evenly in the record books, so a title shot could help determine the “better man”. Imagine the sight of O’Reilly putting Elgin in the Armageddon cross-arm-breaker and Elgin powering up into his Elgin Bomb. It would be very cool. O’Reilly’s “attitude” and submission / kicking style would amp up a title opportunity…hey, it worked with Davey Richards at Showdown in the Sun Night 1 and it would work here too.
There you have it-five wrestlers who have never been ROH World Champion before but who could provide an excellent title match against Michael Elgin in 2014. Which other wrestlers who have never own the World Championship would you want to see Elgin match up against? Let me know via the comments section below, Twitter or e-mail.